Please note that a new member of staff will teach this module in October. The syllabus will remain mostly the same. If you have any queries in the meantime about the module for 2020/21, please email Prof Emma Mason.
Objectives and outline syllabus
This module aims to explore the rise of the novel as both a genre and a concept, and the ways in which it develops in the particular context of nineteenth-century Britain, responding to rapid social change - and the possibility of revolution - and the correspondingly shifting understandings of class, gender, sexuality, nation and culture. We shall consider what nineteenth-century readers taxonomized the novel and invested heavily in what they thought its purpose and formula should be and yet simultaneously defamiliarized it. So too, we will consider the nineteenth-century novel outside its historical context, and as subject to diverse critical readings. The module traverses a range of various styles such as "social realism", “sensationalism”, “historical fiction”, “fantasy”, and cover topics such as masculinity, the new woman, sexuality, childhood, landscapes, Empire, dialogues between image and text, evolution, and illness. Novelists and texts from the popular to the literary, from the canonical to those often overlooked post-1900.
Texts will include, but are not limited to: Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent; Jane Austen, Mansfield Park; William Thackeray, Vanity Fair; Charlotte Brontë, Villette; Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South; Mrs. Henry Ward, East Lynne; Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend; George Eliot, Daniel Deronda; Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray; Henry James, What Maisie Knew; Joseph Conrad, ‘An Outpost of Progress’
The reading load for this module is comparatively heavy as many of the novels, while very rewarding, are also very long. It is therefore recommended that you read two novels during the summer vacation. Some of you might struggle with Edgeworth and, particularly, Scott, but they're still fascinating, especially when read alongside some of the other more entertaining novels.
If you would like to undertake some secondary reading, useful starting-points would be:
At least one of these three from The Oxford Handbook of the Victorian Novel, ed. Lisa Rodensky (2013):
a. Peter Garside, 'The Early C19th English Novel, 1820-1836'
b. William McKelvy, 'New Histories of English Literature and the Rise of the Novel, 1835-1859'
c. Rebecca Edwards Newman, 'Genre, Criticism, and the Early Victorian Novel'
You can also delve in and out of these texts, available as e-books via Warwick library: The Oxford handbook of the Victorian novel, edited by Lisa Rodensky (2013); and The Oxford handbook of Victorian literary culture, edited by Juliet John. (2016)
Exam - This is a link to the past exam papers so you can get a sense of what is expected.
Lectures from previous years are now available on moodle via self-enrolement
Sample 1st-class Essays: